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Microcirculation. 2013 Apr;20(3):203-16. doi: 10.1111/micc.12020.

Cytoprotective signaling and gene expression in endothelial cells and macrophages-lessons for atherosclerosis.

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Vascular Science Section, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 ONN, UK.


Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the medium and large arteries driven in large part by the accumulation of oxidized low-density lipoproteins and other debris at sites rendered susceptible because of the geometry of the arterial tree. As lesions develop, they acquire a pathologic microcirculation that perpetuates lesion progression, both by providing a means for further monocyte and T-lymphocyte recruitment into the arterial wall and by the physical and chemical stresses caused by micro-hemorrhage. This review summarizes work performed in our department investigating the roles of signaling pathways, alone and in combination, that lead to specific programs of gene expression in the atherosclerotic environment. Focusing particularly on cytoprotective responses that might be enhanced therapeutically, the work has encompassed the anti-inflammatory effects of arterial laminar shear stress, mechanisms of induction of membrane inhibitors that prevent complement-mediated injury, homeostatic macrophage responses to hemorrhage, and the transcriptional mechanisms that control the stability, survival, and quiescence of endothelial monolayers. Lastly, while the field has been dominated by investigation into the mechanisms of DNA transcription, we consider the importance of parallel post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms for fine-tuning functional gene expression repertoires.

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